Fact Check: Elkton Increases Taxes 54% Over 8 Years

Someone Noticed planned to do an article outlining Elkton’s history with tax and utility rate increases since 2003.  But that story is getting pushed ahead after initial coverage of the budget workshop, the one where citizens aren’t allowed to speak and documents aren’t shared, generated lots of back and forth about staking out the claim of being fiscally responsible.

Though we’re still working on the broad piece, we have the values on the actual percentage changes from previous levies.  During a six-year period (2003 – 2008), town approved increases resulted in taxpayers paying out 54% more than if the tax burden had stayed the same.  In one year, the rate grew by nearly 26%.  (See former Mayor Rob Alt’s comments about that here.)  Those increases far exceeded inflation rates or the extra amount workers received in paychecks from employer annual adjustments.

During the two most recent fiscal years, the town has turned to a conservative approach with public dollars.  In 2009, Mayor Fisona advertised that Elkton was going to increase the tax rate above the constant yield.    However, at the last-minute urging of the commissioners, the administration reversed its position, skipping the advertised increase and cancelling the public hearing.  For 2010, the board maintained the levy and that appears to be this years plan so citizens didn’t payout any additional amounts on the property assessment.

We’re still working on the full report so we’ll release a study of utility rates next.  Then we’ll grade each of the candidates based the data-driven findings and what they’ve said and done as it realtes to fiscal responsibility with the public’s money.

State Information on Constant Yield

Story Coming up Soon — What’s the data say about utility rates.  We’ve already covered the board’s plan to vote on a nearly 60% increase right after the election.

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7 responses to “Fact Check: Elkton Increases Taxes 54% Over 8 Years

  1. Mike,

    The story is actually a bit worse. If the data quoted is the percent increase over the previous year, then to merely add the percents ignores the change in base, or compounding effect. The propoer way to compute the increase is to multiply 1.025×1.256×1.067x … = 1.649. Thus the taxes have increased 64.9% over the time period cited. In contrast, the inflation rate, as measured by changes in the government provided Consumer Price Index, was 21.0%. In return, though, we did get a lot of speed bumps and brick sidewalks in town.

    I can’t wait to see what you uncover on the water and sewer rates.

  2. Bob thanks so much for sharing your expertise as a professional statistican on this.

    We’ve never seen so many elected Elkton officials staking out the turf of being fiscal watchdogs. Amazing. Guess they’ve heard the national and regional message and watched what’s been happening as the county level as the Young Republicans created a conversation about that subject. Of course, having an election coming up in a few weeks, must’ve helped them remember that obligation too.

    Sure wished we’d seen oversight responsibility for the dollars when the politicians were trying to sell the Elk Landing property to a developer and build a recreation center for the town. Only one commissioner was bringing it up in those days and that was Gary Storke. In fact, just until recently, he was about the only one we ever heard bring up anything about watching out for the people’s money.

    That careful monitoring of taxes and expenses was a consitent theme (see many of the earlier posts, long before we knew this was going to be a campaign issue or knew how the campaign would shape up.) The Whig even endorsed Storke, noting that he was a careful watchdog when it came to the tax burden for citizens.

    Our columsn are always open to guest contributions too. Thanks for sharing, independent professional expertise.

  3. one more thing…

    Comparing to the rate of inflation may be wrong, as the assessed value of the house will also change over time. During approximately the same period, the assessed value of my house increased by 98%. Thus, my town tax increase is really 326% compared to 21% inflation. There’s no telling where I’d be without the stewardship of these fiscal conservatives!

  4. Bob,
    The Mayor has all the info on the sewer & water rates. He is keeping it till after the election. I know this because Mayor & Council agreed at the 4/14/10 workshop. It is on record.

  5. Bob: Thanks for the additional info. Sure wish I’d seen some of the fiscal conservatism in the past couple of years, before the election recalibrated things.

  6. Debbie: Thanks for making that point.

  7. Debbie,

    Thank you for driving that point home.

    I think that postponing town business and procrastinating on releasing ostensibly public information on account of an election are reasons enough to vote out incumbents.

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